Immunotherapy is the better cancer treatment option

According to World Health Organization (WHO), cancer- related illnesses cause nearly 1 and 6 deaths worldwide, and 70 percent of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.

In the Philippines, the Philippine Statistics Authority paints a grim picture, pointing to cancer as a second leading cause of death for both men and women after heart ailments.

Immunotherapy

One reason for increasing cancer patients death is the financial burden the Filipino families should cope. Because of lack of health insurance patients often need to pay their own treatment, medical supplies, and other costs such as food and transportation expenses.

Some patients are also lack of community support and awareness of what is best for them. Cancer is a serious threat but it should not be considered as an automatic death sentence with the advent of new treatment options like immunotherapy.

Hope from Within: Test, Talk, Take Action

To give updates, discuss and provide recommendations on how Filipino patients can be supported better in their fight against cancer, the ‘Hope from Within: Test, Talk, Take Action,’ coalition held a forum on its cancer game plan last April 14, 2018, at Crowne Plaza Galleria Hotel in Ortigas Centre.

The forum was spearheaded by global healthcare company MSD in the Philippines, aligned to its “Inventing for LIfe” anthem to combat devastating diseases through advocacy, patient-centered partnerships in healthcare solutions, and encouraging dialog and action between and among government, medical and private stakeholders with the shared goal of bringing innovative medicines to people who need it most.

Hope from Within coalition members includes the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Society of Oncologists (PSO), Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO) and the Philippine Alliance of Patients Organization (PAPO). The multi-stakeholder forum invited international experts to impart knowledge on various cancer treatments to prevail against the long-dreaded disease.

In a statement, PAPO President Fatima “Girlie” Garcia-Lorenzo reinforced the value of having the voice of the patient in the journey of disease prevention, control, and treatment.

“We believe it’s important for people fighting cancer, their loved ones, caregivers and support groups to know that there are coalitions such as ‘Hope from Within’ that is with them in this cancer journey, which cuts across the medical psycho-social and financial aspects of life. We represent the aspirations of all cancer patients, and it is to work together to make the quality of their lives better amidst all the challenges they are facing.”

Hope from within was also initially a lung cancer advocacy movement. This year “Hope from Within” is expanding its game plan to include awareness and prevention campaigns against other cancers such as melanoma, head and neck, Hodgkin Lymphoma, gastric, and bladder cancers.

Cancer Game Plan

Prof. Morteza Aghmesheh, Medical Oncologist in Wollongong Hospital in Australia spoke about the burden of cancer, and provide case studies on how patient’s quality of life and survival rates improved due to better access to treatment options, such as immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. This can be done in a couple of ways: Stimulating your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells and giving your immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins.

It also redefined cancer management for doctors, patients, and their caregivers, as it caused considerably fewer treatment-related adverse events.

“Breakthrough cancer treatments such as immunotherapy and targeted therapies could be seen as a new lease on life for patients suffering from this disease. And if we can only make diagnostics and immunotherapy more accessible to every Filipino, then a lot more lives may still be saved,” emphasized Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO).

To help Filipino families to lessen their financial burden, DOH and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) has medicine access and assistance programs. PhilHealth benefit packages were also espoused.

Cancer Game Plan is an upcoming social awareness campaign to help an individual impacted by cancer, together with their families and caregivers, manage their emotional health, and communication needs throughout their journey.

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